A federal appeals court in California has ruled that the state’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic firearms to Americans under 21 has been ruled as unconstitutional.
In a 2-1 vote, the judges’ panel said the law was an “an almost total ban on semiautomatic” rifles for youths. They found that it violates the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees the right to private gun ownership.
The law was seen as a response to perceived failures from Congress to pass gun control. It took effect in 2019, raising the minimum requirement for rifle and shotgun sales from 18 years to 21. The court ruling brings the minimum age back to 18. The minimum legal age in California for tobacco, alcohol or cannabis sales is 21.
“America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army,” Judge Ryan Nelson wrote in the 100-page ruling from the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, overturning the law.
Judge Kenneth K. Lee concurred, writing, “We cannot allow good intentions to trump an enumerated and ‘fundamental right’ deeply rooted in the history and tradition of this country.”
State Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office said it was reviewing the 2-1 decision. “California will continue to take all necessary steps to prevent and reduce gun violence. We remain committed to defending California’s common sense gun laws, which save lives and make our communities safer,” a statement from his office read.
The Firearms Policy Coalition, a gun rights non-profit, was among the groups that brought the case.
“Today’s decision confirms that peaceable legal adults cannot be prohibited from acquiring firearms and exercising their rights enshrined in the Second Amendment,” Adam Kraut, coalition vice president of programs, said in a statement.
The decision did not affect an existing California law that requires adults over 18 but under 21 years of age to have a valid hunting license to purchase rifles or shotguns.
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